Thursday, April 9, 2009
Asian Pulled Chicken Salad
Some time in the early 90's, my entire family, along with most of southern California, became obsessed with Chinese chicken salad. We first had it at California Pizza Kitchen, and we were shocked and delighted by its spiciness, tanginess, and the intensity of the scallions and cilantro. Fastforward to the present day, and Chinese chicken salad is on virtually every menu. We're used to it.
Well here we have a home made version that is refreshing, crunchy, and incorporates all the beautiful aspects of the popular menu item without loads of sodium and unwanted additives. It comes from the pages of Stonewall Kitchen Favorites, with a few of my own tweaks. Ironic, isn't it, that a California staple based on Chinese influences came out of a New England cookbook? Maybe not. Trends travel quickly, after all, and this is hardly a new concept.
This can be served over a bed of greens, in a wrap, or (my personal favorite) in a warmed-up whole wheat pita as a chicken salad sandwich of sorts. Feel free to adjust quantities - if you want it a little more limey, go for the whole lime instead of half. Throw in other vegetables, like jicama, bean sprouts, or cucumber. Add some chili peppers for more spice. The Asian pulled chicken salad is your oyster. Or something like that.
Asian Pulled Chicken Salad
adapted from Stonewall Kitchen Favorites
serves 2 (or 1 if you're really hungry)
1 3/4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 large boneless skinless chicken breast, cut in half
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
4 scallions, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces and then into matchsticks
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon EVOO
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (1/2 a juicy lime)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
handful fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring chicken stock, bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon pepper to a simmer over high heat in a small-medium skillet. Place the chicken pieces in the simmering liquid and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 6 minutes at a bare simmer, carefully flip the chicken, and cook for 6 minutes more, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from stock and set aside to cool. Save the stock for another use. Discard bay leaf.
2. Use your hands to shred the cooled chicken into thin 1-inch-long strands (like peeling string cheese). Put chicken in a medium bowl and add ginger, scallions, red pepper, carrots, and peanuts. Toss.
3. Add lime juice, EVOO, sesame oil, cilantro, salt and pepper to taste, and toss gently to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.
I highly recommend the pita pocket option - it was delicious! This isn't good date night food, as you'll have scallion breath after dinner. But it tastes so good that I think it's worth it. Enjoy!